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Josh’s Favorite Movies of 2017 — Part Four!

And so we reach the end of my look back at my favorite movies of 2017!  Click here for part one of my list, click here for part two, and click here for part three!  And now, here are my five favorite movies of 2017:

5. The Big Sick The Big Sick, written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon and directed by Michael Showalter, is based on the true story of Kumail and Emily’s relationship.  The first half of the film feels like a romantic comedy, and then things take a dramatic shift when Emily falls into a coma.  This film is deeply emotional and also very, very funny.  It feels like the heir to the great comedic-dramatic films of James L. Brooks (such as Broadcast News, one of my favorites).  Mr. Nanjiani and Ms. Gordon’s script is sharp and deep, able to bring the funny in a big way while also diving deeply into these characters and, particularly, Kumail’s struggles to balance the expectations of his Muslim family with his personal life choices.  It’s a delight to see Mr. Nanjiani step so effortlessly into this leading-man role, while Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are spectacular as Emily’s parents.  The film is as much about them as it is about Kumail and Emily, which is a bold choice and a key ingredient of this film’s greatness.  I love this film dearly.  (Click here for my full review.)

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi It’s hard to imagine a Star Wars film being underrated, and yet, I have found the on-line anger directed towards Star Wars: The Last Jedi to be quite perplexing.  The film is not perfect.  The mid-movie digression to Canto Bight doesn’t work and feels like a colossal waste of time, and the slow starship chase that forms the spine of the film’s narrative is ridiculous (why the First Order ships couldn’t use light speed to zip in front of the fleeing rebel spaceship is a mystery to me), which weakens the entire film.  And yet, there is so much to love in this film.  First of all, I love the film for constantly defying expectations.  Every time I thought I knew where the film was going, it surprised me.  Sometimes those choices worked and sometimes they didn’t, but while many seem to be frustrated that this is not the Star Wars film they’d expected it to be, I love The Last Jedi for that.  (If you want to watch The Empire Strikes Back, they already made that movie!  So go and watch it!)  I love that The Last Jedi attempts to expand our understanding of the Force.  I love Mark Hamill’s work … [continued]

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Welcome back!  We’re about to enter the TOP TEN of my list of My Favorite Episodes of TV of 2017!  Click here for part one, click here for part two, and click here for part three.

And now, onward…!

10. Silicon Valley: “Terms of Service” (season four, episode two, aired on 4/30/17) — A comedic highlight of the fourth season of Silicon Valley, and the show as a whole, was this brief, beautiful moment in which Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) ascended to CEO of PiperChat … and then flamed out spectacularly.  Mr. Nanjiani has been a secret weapon on the show since the beginning, and he killed it in this spotlight episode.  I loved watching the arrogant, drunk-with-power Dinesh, but the brilliant comedic beauty of the moment in which Dinesh realized how badly he had bungled things and just how far over his head he was, was astonishing.  It was one of the funniest moments in any TV show all year long.  (The continual pinging sound effect throughout the scene, as more and more under-age users sign up for PiperChat and Dinesh finds himself in deeper and deeper trouble, took a great scene and made it amazing.  It’s a piece of comedic genius.)  The entire ensemble was on fire in this episode.  Throw in the welcome return of Matt McCoy’s sad-sack lawyer (“My shame will linger long after my voting rights are restored”) and a great final moment with series villain Gavin Belson as his triumph turns to ash (when he realizes the truth about PiperChat) and you have a winner of an episode.  (Click here for my full review of Silicon Valley season four.)

9. Sherlock: “The Final Problem” (season four, episode three, aired on 1/15/17) — What just might be the final episode of Sherlock that we ever see (though I hope that’s not the case!) was one of the series’ darkest and most nail-bitingly intense.  After a lot of teasing, this episode confirmed that the big bad villain of the season was the never-before-seen third Holmes sibling.  Sian Brooke was terrific as the dangerous and insane Eurus Holmes.  For the first time in the series, both Sherlock and Mycroft seemed truly outmatched.  This episode wrought tremendous tension out of Eurus’ torturing of her brothers and John Watson, as she presented them with a series of increasingly impossible challenges.  This was as grim as the show has ever gotten, as time and again our three heroes were powerless to stop innocent people from being murdered by Eurus all around them.  I could hardly believe what I was watching.  The show has never looked better — every aspect of the production seemed to be firing … [continued]

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Josh Reviews The Big Sick

August 24th, 2017
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The Big Sick, written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon and directed by Michael Showalter, is based on the true story of Kumail and Emily’s relationship.  As the film opens, the two meet at one of Kumail’s shows and begin to date, and while they are clearly compatible, Kumail (who plays himself in the film) keeps the relationship a secret from his Pakistani family, who are attempting to arrange a marriage for Kumail with a Pakistani woman.  When Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) discovers this and Kumail admits that he is not sure they have a future together, she leaves him.  This seems like the end of their relationship, but soon after Emily takes ill and unexpectedly is placed in a medically induced coma.  Kumail, called to the hospital by one of Emily’s friends, signs the permission form, and remains at the hospital at Emily’s side.  The second half of the film chronicles this experience, alongside Emily’s parents (played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano).

That sounds like the makings of a Very Serious Drama.  But while The Big Sick is a very emotionally engaging film, and one that deals with a number of serious topics, the magic of the movie is that it is also extremely funny throughout, telling the story with an enchantingly light touch.  I loved it.

I have been a fan of Kumail Nanjiani’s ever since I discovered his The X-Files Files podcast a few years back, and he is consistently hilarious on Silicon Valley.  The Big Sick is a tremendous showcase for Mr. Nanjiani, and it’s exciting to see him crush it.  This is a very personal story, being so directly inspired by Mr. Nanjiani and Ms. Gordon’s actual experiences, and Mr. Nanjiani proves to be an extremely engaging lead.  He conveys an enormous likability that helps carry the audience through the film even when we see Kumail make some very poor choices in the film.  Mr. Nanjiani is an expert comedian, and he is so funny throughout the film, bringing every punchline to life.  What’s even more impressive is how well he is able to sell the dramatic moments.

Zoe Kazan steps into the role of Emily, and she’s great.  I had seen Ms. Kazan in a few roles here and there (Me and Orson Welles and Revolutionary Road), but I was not that familiar with her work.  She has great chemistry with Mr. Nanjiani and does a great job at conveying the spark between the two of them.  Her work in the first half of the film is strong enough to keep Emily alive as a character in the second half, when she is put into a coma and … [continued]